Official release date: June 22
The verdict: Eminem’s worked hard to position Recovery, not Relapse, as his true post-pills return to form: first by scrapping the planned Relapse 2 title, then by devastatingly calling out Relapse as “ehh.” And he’s not done yet! On “Talkin 2 Myself,” the second song on Recovery — which, yes, has leaked, making this a good week for highly anticipated hip-hop albums — Em bluntly breaks it down: “Them last two albums didn’t count/Encore I was on drugs/Relapse I was flushing them out/I’ve come to make it up to you now.” That brings us to Recovery, seventeen dense songs stretching over an hour of music made up almost entirely of Eminem’s voice (Rihanna and Pink do show up for largely superfluous chorus work; elsewhere, the Lil Wayne collaboration “No Love” is a fantastic “Drop the World” retread) skipping frantically between hyped-up battle rap and sentimentalism (“25 to Life” is another one of those songs where you think the guy’s talking about a girl, but then it turns out he’s talking about hip-hop). The best moments are, as usual, the awkwardly honest ones. Just a few of the things Em calls himself out for here: flirting with releasing Kanye and Lil Wayne dis songs in the midst of his addiction just to grab attention; surrounding himself with yes-men drug dealers; and wearing unbecoming baggy sweatpants. Also on Recovery: a Haddaway sample!